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FG Sues Turkish Airlines For Passenger Abuse

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Turkish Airlines

The Federal Government says it has taken Turkish Airlines to court for alleged impunity and violation of the rights of some Nigerian passengers.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, filed a three-count charge against the airline and two of its principal officers, Liker Ayci and Rasak Shobowale, before the Federal High Court in Abuja.

A statement by the Consumer Protection Council on Sunday said the prosecution became imperative as a result of the persistent refusal of Turkish Airlines to respond to lawful requests by the council for a full situation report on the alleged shoddy treatment of its passengers on Flight 623.

The development, according to the statement, prompted the council to approach the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation for the prosecution of the airline.

The statement read in part, “The accused persons were arraigned before the court for allegedly neglecting, without sufficient cause, to attend and testify before the CPC on the number of passengers aboard the Turkish Airlines Flight 623 from Istanbul to Abuja on the 25th and 31st of December, 2015, as well as the 9th of January, 2016, who were affected by its untimely delivery of baggage, thereby committing an offence punishable under section 18 of the CPC’s enabling law.

“The Federal Government also accused the airline and its two principal officers of violating the same section of the CPC Act by neglecting, without sufficient cause, to attend and testify before the Consumer Protection Council on the detailed steps taken by the airline to provide redress and compensation to passengers aboard its Flight 623 from Istanbul to Abuja on the said dates, who were affected by its untimely delivery of baggage.

“The prosecution of the airline and its principal officers followed a warning by the Federal Government to the airline to respond within 21 days to the Consumer Protection Council’s request for full situation report on the airline’s alleged shoddy treatment of passengers of flight TK 623 of Sunday, December 20, 2015 and other subsequent flights during the Yuletide or face prosecution.”

The statement said the AGF had in a letter of March 17, 2016, signed on his behalf by the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, Mohammed Diri, threatened to prosecute the airline if it failed to respond to the council’s lawful demand for the full situation report, irrespective of its engagement with any other relevant agency.

The statement quoted the AGF letter to have stated, “It is our considered opinion that you are not in any position to choose which government institution or laws to comply with and which one to disdain.

“Your refusal, neglect or omission to oblige the CPC with detailed information relating to delayed baggage of your passengers from December 2015 to January 2016 as requested is in breach of section 18 of the Consumer Protection Council Act, 1992 and a deliberate attempt to ridicule a duly constituted authority.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Senator Rubio Urges Trump to Scrap TikTok-Oracle Deal if ByteDance Ties Remain

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Marco Rubio and five other Republican senators called on the Trump administration to reject a proposed deal for Oracle Corp ORCL.N to become a “trusted technology provider” for popular social media platform TikTok’s U.S. operations, if ties to Chinese owner ByteDance remain.

Rubio, the first senator to call on the administration to investigate TikTok over censorship concerns, said in the letter to President Donald Trump that “serious questions” remained about Oracle’s role, the technology it would provide to ByteDance, and the future of the application’s algorithm.

“We remain opposed to any deal that would allow China-based or controlled entities to retain, control or modify the code or algorithms that operate any U.S.-based version of TikTok,” Rubio wrote in the letter, dated Wednesday.

“We are heartened that this deal still requires government approval, and if reports indicating this proposed deal will retain links to ByteDance or other Chinese-controlled entities, we strongly urge the administration to reject such a proposal on national security grounds,” he added.

Late on Wednesday, Senator Ted Cruz raised concerns about a deal, saying in a separate letter the Oracle ByteDance deal “failed to meet the intent of the president’s executive orders” and “raises serious national security concerns.”

The Trump administration will make a decision soon on Oracle becoming a trusted technology provider, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Wednesday.

The Rubio letter, also signed by Senators Thom Tillis, Rick Scott, John Cornyn, Roger Wicker and Dan Sullivan, is part of a growing chorus of lawmakers raising questions about the deal.

On Monday, Republican Senator Josh Hawley sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who heads a national security panel reviewing the proposal, calling for the deal to be scuttled, if it does not allow for the “full emancipation of TikTok software from potential Chinese Communist Part control.”

It is unclear what Trump will do. White House adviser Jared Kushner on Tuesday said the White House is reviewing Oracle’s bid and a senior administration official said a decision had not yet been made.

Trump had previously made clear he sought a full-scale sale of the app to an American technology company, amid concerns among national security officials that ByteDance could provide American user data to the Chinese government. But Trump may not want to alienate 100 million-odd American TikTok users weeks before a hotly contested presidential election.

Trump has also said he is a fan of Oracle’s co-founder and Chairman Larry Ellison, one of few tech executives to openly support the Republican president.

Meanwhile, China has updated its export control rules to give it a say over the transfer of technology, such as TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, to a foreign buyer. Chinese officials have said ByteDance should not be coerced by the United States into a deal.

Oracle announced on Monday it was part of a proposal submitted by ByteDance to the U.S. Treasury Department to serve as “trusted technology provider,” to ByteDance, providing no further details on the terms of the deal.

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Pandemic Has Spurred Need for Digital ID Systems to Reduce Physical Contact

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Digital ID systems, a prerequisite for developing functional e-governance platforms, have been on the agendas of many emerging economies for quite some time.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has reemphasized the importance of eIDs in providing social, medical and financial support to households and businesses.

Electronic identification allows citizens and businesses to prove their identity and access the governmental services online. It enables fully digital processes and eliminates the need for expensive and time-consuming manual operations. Such functionality has been crucial during the pandemic, especially for developing countries.

For example, in April Chile pre-enrolled millions of new recipients in social welfare programs, while Thailand, where over 28 million people applied for a new benefit for informal workers affected by the pandemic, filtered out those who had already received assistance from other projects. All of this, including the improved accessibility to medical services, has helped to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on both the economy and the people.

“The pandemic has put electronic identification at the top of the priority lists of many developing countries,” said Mindaugas Glodas, CEO at NRD Companies, a global IT consortium specializing in e-solutions developing and consulting. “It has become a necessary component of digital transformation initiatives for governments around the world, ensuring transparency, security and efficiency of e-public services they are eager to deliver to citizens. The importance of eIDs will only grow in the coming years.

“However, while economies are steadily moving towards digitization, more than a billion people, half of them in Africa, still lack basic unique IDs—a precondition for citizens to exercise the range of human rights set out in international laws and conventions. In the absence of identification systems, people have difficulties opening bank accounts, voting, obtaining formal employment and accessing education or healthcare, while states themselves struggle with government administration, tax collection, response to emergencies, disasters and epidemics, border management and security,” said Mindaugas Glodas.

One of the developing nations that has recognized the importance of unique and digital ID systems is Samoa, previously one of the least digitized countries in the world. Working together with NRD Companies, the Polynesian country has been determined to bring its people an accessible and highly secure identity management system. When the pandemic first hit, the Samoan government decided to continue with the consultancy project remotely even in unfavorable circumstances—a move that speaks to the urgent need for innovation. The new project is expected to help support the economic recovery and serve as a foundation for a digital government platform.

According to Vaidotas Ramonas, a digital identity, electronic signature and trust services expert, identification is the basis for building inclusive societies, where every individual has access to services provided by the state with no one left behind. Once countries have implemented unique ID frameworks, the next logical step is to introduce digital ID systems. There are multiple paths governments can take to initiate and encourage the use of eID platforms.

“The government can start providing eID services by, for example, digitizing some of the most widely-used, costly or inconvenient-to-use public services—ice-breakers, as I call them,” said Vaidotas Ramonas. “Digitization would make the services cheaper, easier and faster to use, which could possibly attract more people to try them out. Also, the government can simply announce, independently, that some service will be available only through e-government for which the citizens will need to set up eIDs. It is possible that at first there will be some discontentment, but experience shows that people eventually see that eID saves time, money and energy, and later refuse to give it up.”

As emerging nations tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild their economies, they have a unique opportunity to use the crisis as a springboard and introduce innovative digital solutions. With all of the advantages it brings to the table, building unique ID infrastructure is a good place to start a journey toward national eID platforms.

NRD Companies, with the support from its global partners—such as the World Bank, AfDB, European Commission and others—often organizes govtech-related events seeking to educate policy makers and encourage sustainable change. The next event, an international webinar on national digital identity, is scheduled for September 17th. However, for those unable to attend, the company is more than happy to share a link to watch the event at a later time, thus encouraging any interested peers to reach out.

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FTC Refunds Over $11.45 Billion to Financial Fraud Victims

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Financial Fraud Victims Receive $11.45 Billion

 Scams in cyberspace have been a prevalent issue for quite some time, but the US government is taking measures to help cybercrime victims.

According to data presented by the Atlas VPN research team, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) refunded $11.45 billion to US financial fraud victims. As many as 7.04 million individuals received a refund from the FTC since its inception.

The FTC’s main mission is to protect US consumers by halting unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices in the marketplace. This independent agency of the United States government conducts investigations, sues companies and people that violate the law.

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN shares her thoughts on the FTC’s performance:

In short, it appears that the Federal Trade Commission is sticking to its word and helping scam victims. On the other hand, fraudulent schemes are still a painful and growing issue for US consumers.

Once an FTC lawsuit or settlement is final and the defendants have paid the money, the Bureau’s Office of Claims and Refunds creates a plan for returning that money to the victims.

By far, the most significant case involving fraudulent practices was carried out by AMG Services. After the settlement, the Federal Trade Commission issued $956.26 million refund checks to over 1.18 million recipients.

The second biggest fraud case in which the FTC sent out refund checks is the settlement with Herbalife. The case resulted in $199.51 million refund checks to 260 thousand victims and Herbalife’s restructuring.

The lawsuit alleged that Herbalife deceived consumers into believing they could earn significant profits from selling the company’s products. However, after investigating the business model, it became apparent that “it’s virtually impossible to make money selling Herbalife products.” The FTC said in a press release.

FY 2019 – a record year

In total, from the fiscal year 2016 to the fiscal year 2019, the Federal Trade Commission, or companies and individuals that were a part of fraudulent schemes, refunded more than $10.5 billion to scam victims.

In some cases, the FTC sends out the refunds by themselves. The FTC directly sent out $977.5 million in refunds since the fiscal year 2016. Over 9.1 million people cashed out these checks. The administrative costs of distributing the money reach $22.1 million.

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